Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
We've all been there: You order a lipstick online thinking it's going to change your life, and it turns out to be nothing like the picture. Or, worse, you try it on in a store and fall in love with the color, only to hate how it looks in the harsh, cruel light of day. Whether it's too dark, too light, or too sheer, when it's wrong, it's just wrong. Or is it?
We actually believe that anyone can wear any color. So, rather than encourage you to return that lippie simply because it's not what you thought it would be, we talked to some experts to figure out ways to make it work — because no lipstick should be left behind.
Let's start with a common issue: lipstick that turns out to be too dark. While goth lips had a huge moment this winter, it's a hard color to wear in spring — especially if you weren't anticipating how dark it actually is. Makeup artist Suzy Gerstein says that this can happen if you have a naturally red lip color, and it's an easy fix. "Dab a peachy-nude like MAC's Peachstock in the center of your lips and blend the edges with your fingertips to mix the colors together. If your concealer is peach-hued, you can use that, too."
Another quick fix? Makeup artist Lynsey Buckelew from Giella Cosmetics suggests using a shimmery lip gloss over the dark color. "The shimmer in the gloss will reflect the light, making the color overall appear lighter." And, this trick means you won't be giving up any of the color payoff.
On the other hand, if you feel that your lipstick is washing out your face, chances are, it's too light. Gerstein recommends mixing in a darker shade: "I love applying a sheer, reddish brown over the top to deepen the color ever so slightly. I work in thin layers so I can keep adding until the shade I've created has enough life." She recommends Clinique's Black Honey for this purpose.
Rather than adjusting the lippie's lightness. Buckelew suggests taking the opportunity to highlight your other features. "Really play up your eyes, and use some bronzer to warm up your face," she says.
Thought you picked a pretty spring pink and ended up with something a little too frosty? Gerstein says to fix the color, you should mix in an orange hue like Shiseido's Day Lily. "That will balance out the coolness and harmonize better with your skin tone," she says. Or, if your color turns out to be too warm for what you're going for, she recommends topping it off with a cool pink gloss. "I love the new Chanel Glossimer in Sexy. It's a cool, clear pink shade. If it's still too warm after that, try adding a tiny dab of white pigment like MAC's White Lipmix."
So, what if you love the color but there's just not enough of it? A sheer lip when you're going for bold is super disappointing. Buckelew recommends simply filling in your lips with a same-colored lipliner first. Gerstein also likes to use lipliner for a fix, but suggests using it over your lipstick instead of under.
So, those tips in mind, let's all vow to never write off a less-than-perfect lipstick again — at least, not right away.
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